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eye, which by such slender aid creates a thousand imaginary forms, if the scene be unknown, and as the light steals gradually on, is amused by correcting its vague ideas by the real objects. What in the confusion of twilight perhaps seemed a stretch of rising ground, broken into various parts, becomes now vast masses of wood and an extent of forest.
As the sun begins to appear above the horizon, another change takes place. What was before only form, being now enlightened, begins to receive effect. This effect depends on two circumstances--the catching lights which touch the summits of every object, and the mistiness in which the rising orb is commonly enveloped
The effect is often pleasing when the sun rises in unsullied brightness, diffusing its ruddy light over the upper parts of objects, which is contrasted by the deeper shadows below; yet the effect is then only transcendent when he rises accompanied by a train of vapours in a misty atmosphere. Among lakes and mountains, this happy accompaniment often forms the most astonishing visions, and yet in the forest it is nearly as great. With what delightful effect do we sometimes see a sun's disk just appear above a woody hill, or, in Shakespeare's language,
“Stand tiptoe on the misty mountain top,” and dart his diverging rays through the rising vapour. The radiance catching the tops of the trees as they hang midway upon the shaggy steep, and touching here and there a few other prominent objects, imperceptibly mixes its ruddy tint with the surrounding mists, setting on fire, as it were, their upper parts, while their lower skirts are lost in a dark mass of varied confusion, in which trees and ground, and radiance and obscurity are all blended together. When the eye is fortunate enough to catch the glowing instant-for it is always a vanishing scene—it furnishes an idea worth treasuring among the choicest appearances of nature. Mistiness alone, we have observed, occasions a confusion in objects which is often picturesque ; but the glory of the vision depends on the glowing lights which are mingled with it.
Landscape painters, in general, pay too little attention to the discriminations of morning and evening. We are often at a loss to distinguish in pictures the rising from the setting sun, though their characters are very different both in the lights and shadows. The ruddy lights, indeed, of the evening are more easily distinguished, but it is not perhaps always sufficiently observed that the shadows of the evening are much less opaque than those of the morning. They may be brightened perhaps by the numberless rays floating in the atmosphere, which are incessantly reverberated in every direction, and may continue in action after the sun is set; whereas in the morning the rays of the preceding day have subsided, no object receives any light but from the immediate lustre of the sun. Whatever becomes of the theory, the fact, I believe, is well ascertained.
The incidental beauties which the meridian sun exhibits are much fewer than those of the rising sun. In summer when he rides high at noon, and sheds his perpendicular ray, all is illumination; there is no shadow to balance such a glare of light, no contrast to oppose it. The judicious artist, therefore, rarely represents his objects under a vertical sun.
And yet no species of landscape bears it so well as the scenes of the forest. The tuftings of the trees, the recesses among them, and the lighter foliage hanging over the darker, may
all have an effect under a meridian sun. I speak chiefly, however, of the internal scenes of the forest, which bear such total brightness better than any other, as in them there is generally a natural gloom to balance it. The light, obstructed by close intervening trees, will rarely predominate; hence the effect is often
fine. A strong sunshine striking a wood through some fortunate chasm, and reposing on the tuftings of a clump, just removed from the eye, and strengthened by the deep shadows of the trees behind, appears to great advantage; especially if some noble tree, standing on the foreground in deep shadow, flings athwart the sky its dark branches, here and there illumine splendid touch of light.
In an open country, the most fortunate circumstance that attends a meridian sun is cloudy weather, which occasions partial lights. Then it is that the distant forest scene is spread with lengthened gleams, while the other parts of the landscape are in shadow; the tuftings of trees are particularly adapted to catch this effect with advantage; there is a richness in them from the strong opposition of light and shade, which is wonderfully fine. A distant forest thus illumined wants only a foreground to make it highly picturesque.
As the sun descends, the effect of its illumination becomes stronger. It is a doubt whether the rising or the setting sun is more picturesque. The great beauty of both depends on the contrast between splendour and obscurity. But this contrast is produced by these different incidents in different ways. The grandest effects of the rising sun are produced by the vapours which envelop it—the setting sun rests its glory on the gloom which often accompanies its parting rays. A depth of shadow hanging over the eastern hemisphere gives the beams of the setting sun such powerful effect, that although in fact they are by no means equal to the splendour of a meridian sun, yet through force of contrast they appear superior. A distant forest scene under this brightened gloom is particularly rich, and glows with double splendour. The verdure of the summer leaf, and the varied tints of the autumnal one, are all lighted up with the most resplendent colours.
The internal parts of the forest are not so happily disposed to catch the effects of a setting sun. The
meridian ray, we have seen, may dart through the openings at the top, and produce a picture, but the flanks of the forest are generally too well guarded against its horizontal beams. Sometimes a recess fronting the west may receive a beautiful light, spreading in a lengthened gleam amidst the gloom of the woods which surround it; but this can only be had in the outskirts of the forest. Sometimes also we find in its internal parts, though hardly in its deep recesses, splendid lights here and there catching the foliage which though in nature generally too scattered to produce an effect, yet, if judiciously collected, may be beautiful on canvas.
We sometimes also see in a woody scene coruscations like a bright star, occasioned by a sunbeam darting through an eyelet-hole among the leaves. Many painters, and especially Rubens, have been fond of introducing this radiant spot in their landscapes. But in painting, it is one of those trifles which produce no effect, nor can this radiance be given. In poetry, indeed, it may produce a pleasing image. Shakespeare hath introduced it beautifully, where, speaking of the force of truth entering a guilty conscience, he compares it to the sun, which
“Fires the proud tops of the eastern pines,
And darts his light through every guilty hole.” It is one of those circumstances which poetry may offer to the imagination, but the pencil cannot well produce to the eye.
A SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY. [This extract photographs a state of things that has passed away.
It is from the Spectator, a famous daily sheet, the first number of which appeared on the 1st of March, 1711. To this periodical the most celebrated and constant contributor was Joseph Addison, Essayist and Poet, born 1st May, 1672, died 17th June, 1719. His writings are justly re led as a well-spring of English, pure and undefiled.]
I am always very well pleased with a country Sunday, and think, if keeping holy the seventh day were only a human institution, it would be the best method that could have been thought of for the polishing and civilising of mankind. It is certain the country people would soon degenerate into a kind of savages and barbarians, were there not such frequent returns of a stated time, in which the whole village meet together with their best faces, and in their cleanliest habits, to converse with one another upon different subjects, hear their duties explained to them, and join together in adoration of the Supreme Being Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week, not only as it refreshes in their minds the notions of religion, but as it puts both the sexes upon appearing in their most agreeable forms, and exerting all such qualities as are apt to give them a figure in the eye of the village. A country fellow distinguishes himself as much in the churchyard as a citizen does upon the 'Change, the whole parish politics being generally discussed in that place, either after sermon or before the bell rings.
My friend Sir Roger, being a good churchman, has beautified the inside of his church with several texts of his own choosing. He has likewise given a handsome pulpit-cloth, and railed in the communion-table at his own expense. He has often told me, that at his coming to his estate, he found his parishioners very irregular ; and that in order to make them kneel, and join in the responses, he gave every one of them a hassock and a Common Prayer-Book ; and at the same time employed an itinerant singing-master, who goes about the country for that purpose, to instruct them rightly in the tunes of the Psalms, upon which they now very much value themselves, and indeed outdo most of the country churches that I have ever heard.
As Sir Roger is landlord to the whole congregation, he keeps them in very good order, and will suffer nobody to sleep in it besides himself; for if by chance